US asks UN nuclear watchdog if Iran military sites to be checked under 2015 deal

Updated 24 August 2017
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US asks UN nuclear watchdog if Iran military sites to be checked under 2015 deal

VIENNA: The US wants to know if the UN atomic watchdog plans to inspect Iranian military sites to verify Tehran’s compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Tuesday.
“If you look... at past Iranian behavior, what you’ve seen is there have been covert actions at military sites, at universities, things like that,” Haley, a member of Trump’s Cabinet, told Reuters in an interview.
“There were already issues in those locations, so are they including that in what they look at to make sure that those issues no longer remain?” she said. “They have the authority to look at military sites now. They have the authority to look at any suspicious sites now, it’s just are they doing it?”
The head of the UN’s atomic watchdog met Haley on Wednesday to brief her on the nuclear deal.
Iran’s top authorities have flatly rejected giving international inspectors access to their military sites, and Iranian officials have told Reuters that any such move would trigger harsh consequences.
“Why would they say that if they had nothing to hide? Why wouldn’t they let the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) go there?” Haley said.
Iran’s atomic chief was quoted by state media as saying on Tuesday that Iran could resume production of highly enriched uranium within five days if the nuclear deal was revoked.
In April, Trump ordered a review of whether a suspension of sanctions on Iran related to the nuclear deal — negotiated under former President Barack Obama — was in the US national security interest. He has called it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned last week that Iran could abandon the nuclear agreement “within hours” if the US imposes any more new sanctions.
Most UN and Western sanctions were lifted 18 months ago under the nuclear deal. Iran is still subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the deal.
The IAEA polices restrictions the deal placed on Iran’s nuclear activities and reports quarterly. Haley said some of the questions she had were: “Are you looking at everything? Are you looking at those places where there has been covert activity in the past? Are you able to get access to these areas? Or are you being delayed? Are you being shut out from those things?”
Under US law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. The next deadline is October, and Trump has said he thinks by then the US will declare Iran to be non-compliant.
“We don’t know if he’s going to certify or decertify the deal,” said Haley, adding that she would report back to Trump and the national security team.
The US review of its policy toward Iran is also looking at Tehran’s behavior in the Middle East, which Washington has said undermines US interests in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes the Iran nuclear deal is “one of the most important diplomatic achievements in our search for, for peace and stability,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.
“Everyone involved needs to do its utmost to protect and support that agreement,” Dujarric told reporters.


India’s top court demands government act to stop lynchings

Updated 9 sec ago
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India’s top court demands government act to stop lynchings

NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the government to enact a new law and stem what it called “horrendous acts” of lynching, after some 22 people were killed by mobs this year.
Since February the country has seen a spate of mob lynchings, often in isolated areas where outsiders have been accused of child kidnapping and other crimes following fake rumors spread via WhatsApp.
The latest incident saw a Google engineer killed in a mob attack last week in the southern state of Karnataka and five people were lynched in neighboring Maharashtra on July 1.
Separately, fatal attacks have also been carried out on Muslims by so-called “cow protection” groups who roam highways inspecting livestock trucks. Cows are considered sacred by the majority Hindu community.
The Supreme Court Tuesday condemned the lynchings and asked states to take “preventive, punitive and remedial” measures to curb the trend.
“Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm. It has to be curbed with an iron hand,” observed a bench headed by India’s chief justice Dipak Misra.
The parliament must make a law to deal with lynchings and punish offenders, it said.
“No citizen can take law into his hands or become a law onto himself,” the court ruled.
Lynchings based on misjudgment or malicious information are not a new phenomenon in India. But the spread of smartphones and Internet access in the country’s poorest and most isolated areas has exacerbated the problem.
Indian authorities have recently launched awareness campaigns and imposed Internet blackouts but the measures have had limited success so far.
The government has also taken WhatsApp to task for the “irresponsible and explosive messages” being shared among its 200 million Indian users — the company’s largest market.
WhatsApp, which said it was “horrified” by the violence in India, has introduced new features to help users identify messages that have been forwarded as opposed to written by someone they know.
Tehseen Poonawala, a social rights activist who had petitioned the court over lynchings, welcomed the court’s latest order.
“We hope this (law against lynching) becomes a reality. Such a law is really needed in the country,” he told reporters.